September 20, 2014
Concord, NH - New Hampshire joins all other states and the national Falls Free™ Coalition in declaring a statewide Falls Prevention Awareness Day on the first day of fall, September 21, 2013. This year’s theme, Preventing Falls—One Step at a Time, seeks to unite professionals, older adults, caregivers, and family members to play a part in raising awareness and preventing falls in the older adult population.
Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for New Hampshire residents age 65 and older. Approximately 105 older Granite Staters die every year because of a fall. Through the New Hampshire Falls Risk Reduction Task Force, the State has been implementing falls reduction initiatives for over a decade.
"15,000 placemats with a falls risk reduction message will be distributed to Meals on Wheels and congregate meal site participants across the State,” noted Diane Langley, Chief of the Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. “This day of awareness brings attention to a growing public health issue among older adults, but more importantly, the growing availability of proven falls prevention programs and effective interventions.”
“Older adults should be talking to their health care provider if they have concerns about falls,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of the Division of Public Health Services at DHHS. “In addition, they should have a simple set of screening questions asked of them by their provider at least yearly. For example, some medications or combinations of prescriptions can affect balance. It’s extremely important to have your healthcare provider review all of the medicines you take, even the over-the-counter or herbal ones. Simple actions such as these can have a huge impact. ”
Four easy things everyone can do to help prevent falls include:
- Increase your physical activity. Simple exercise, like walking or swimming at least 15 minutes a day can help build muscle strength and improve balance, which can prevent falls. Exercise programs such as Tai Chi that increase strength and improve balance are especially good.
- See your eye doctor once a year. Age-related eye diseases, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy, can increase the risk of falling. Early detection is key to minimizing the effects of these conditions.
- Review your medications. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the medicines you are taking and ask whether they may cause drowsiness or dizziness. Discuss things you can do to ensure you are taking your medicines safely.
- Remove environmental hazards. Look around the house for anything that could increase the risk of falls, including poor lighting, loose rugs, slippery floors, and unsteady furniture. Remove or modify these hazards.
Fore more information about the Falls Free™ Coalition or Falls Prevention Awareness Day visit http://www.ncoa.org/improve-health/center-for-healthy-aging/falls-prevention/. To learn more about fall prevention go to http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/index.html or http://www.nhfalls.org. To learn about the Division of Public Health Services, Injury Prevention Program go to http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/bchs/mch/injury.htm.